Board Effectiveness

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Is your Board operating at full strength?

Regular internal board reviews can help enhance board performance but inviting in external, independent reviewers can provide an objective and fresh perspective not easily obtained from internal evaluations alone. UK Corporate Governance Code also recommends FTSE 350 companies conduct external board reviews every three years.

Boards are facing a multitude of challenges over the next year, including:

  • Diversity – increasing representation across all levels in the organisation and creating a more inclusive culture
  • Technology – adopting new technologies to stay ahead of the curve but also protecting against new cyber threat
  • Leadership & Governance – board’s currently operate in very dynamic conditions. Good leadership and governance create the conditions to allow them to adapt and make effective decisions at pace
  • Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) – board’s need to set clear definitions and metrics to achieve this agenda, keep up to date with regulatory changes and ensure they are upskilling leaders to deliver on ESG objectives.

To ensure your board is functioning effectively and leveraging strengths to meet the challenges you’re facing, and to continuously improve performance and that of your company, you need to put evaluation tools in place that highlight strengths and areas for improvement.

Dynamics change when new board members arrive, and a stale board where long-tenured members remain has a high risk of becoming complacent. In both scenarios, you need to understand what’s at play and how to mitigate it, something that’s not always possible with internal reviews.

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What board challenges do you face?

Through our board work with a variety of clients, common challenges we see Board’s facing include:

  • Relationships between different stakeholder groups could be improved. 

  • Communication could be clearer pre-, during and post- board meetings.

  • The strategic focus of the board could be increased and much clearer: we often find Board’s dropping too far into operational details.

  • Meetings could be more focused and efficient.

  • Board packs are often too long, sent with only a limited time to review and not always clear what the ‘ask’ is of the Board per each item.

How does Hanover conduct board reviews?

Our approach is pragmatic and efficient and based on deep experience working at executive and board levels. 

We offer three levels of review, all of which result in an objective, independent report that highlights key strengths and risk areas with clear recommendations on how to leverage and address each of these:

BUILD: Board members complete:

  • An online survey to gauge members perceptions of the board’s operations, dynamics and efficiencies
  • One-to-one interviews bringing the results to life
  • One board meeting observation.

GROW - As well as the BUILD activities, board members complete a Leadership Profiling assessment.

  • This gives each member greater insight into themselves and how they operate and impact the board.
  • All members receive a personal leadership report and feedback
  • Aggregate results are included in the overall board report.

ACCELERATE- In addition to ALL the activities in the previous two levels, we also:

  • Conduct a skills audit
  • Observe additional board and sub-committee meetings.

Post board review

As leadership and behavioural experts, we often work with boards post our external review, to improve their interactions, understanding of each other, focus and efficiency through our team effectiveness and development work. 

Find out more
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Case Study - Board Effectiveness Review

The Challenge

Sheffield Mutual’s Chair and CEO wanted to undertake an external Board review to compliment their internal reviews. They felt they had a good Board structure in place but wanted to make sure they were maximising everyone’s potential.
In addition, with several new members having joined the Board recently, they were keen to explore opportunities to strengthen how their Board operates and interacts with each other, how to achieve an even higher level of effectiveness and provide the foundations for further growth and success.

The Solution

Working together, Hanover agreed a four stage process with the Chair and CEO. The steps included: 

- Desk research into their strategy, sector trends, challenges and opportunities and Board processes and procedures

- All Board members completed a short online survey regarding their perception of the Board

- All Board members had a 30 mins 1:1 discussion with one of Hanover’s Board Review experts

- We observed one of their Board meetings – in person

After completing each stage, we integrated all the data collected, identified key themes in relation to strengths and areas for further consideration and provided an in-depth results and recommendations report.

We then arranged a debrief with the Chair and CEO, where we fed back the results and discussed the recommendations, helping them prioritise activities and clarify next steps.

The Outcome

Feedback from the Chair and CEO was extremely positive (see quote below).
The Chair and CEO implemented some of the ‘quick wins’ from the recommendations immediately and have since shared the report with all board members, discussed and agreed which longer-term recommendations to action, and formed a working group to move things forward.


“The CEO and I were very satisfied with the board review and recommendations report Hanover provided. It has given us some very useful insights into how our board works and how we can improve.

When shared with the board, the report was well received and will form a most useful document for us. It contains a broad range of recommendations dealing not only with issues of detail but also more strategic issues.

To obtain the best outcome from the report, I have formed a working group to meet and review the detail of the report. The working group will be making some recommendations at our next board meeting.

Thank you for the work you have done to produce this evaluation.” 


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Enhancing Board Effectiveness 

Hanover has deep experience working with boards to help them identify and leverage strengths and understand and close development gaps. Our broad experience working with hundreds of organisations and thousands of leaders enables us to bring an impartial, independent perspective plus fresh ideas and insights. 

Learn more & download our brochure here

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